New modern toilet facilities for people with severe disabilities are to be provided as part of the restoration and rejuvenation of Bath’s Sydney Gardens.
The gardens, which are the UK’s only surviving Georgian Pleasure Gardens, are to be restored following a £2.7m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The new facilities for people with severe disabilities will be provided thanks to additional funding of £41k made available by Bath & North East Somerset Council together with Bath City Forum. The money has come from the Bath Neighbourhood Portion of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and allocated by the Forum, which advises on how best to spend CIL receipts for the benefit of local people.
The new toilet facility will be provided at the Café Kiosk which will be sited within the new proposed play area.
Keith Rowe, Sydney Gardens Project Manager, said: “One of our key tasks has been to understand the barriers some people face in accessing the Gardens and seeking ways to encourage a wider diversity of people to explore and use the Gardens. This funding will allow us to deliver facilities that will be both modern and safe for people with severe disabilities who want to make the most of all that is on offer at that Sydney Gardens.”
Councillor Colin Blackburn, Chair of Bath City Forum, said: “These facilities will make a huge difference to many people who visit the gardens and will complement Bath’s only other Changing Places facility which is situated in Southgate.”
Councillor Bob Goodman, Cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “This is such an exciting project, but we need to ensure Sydney Gardens can be enjoyed by everyone. The provision of fully accessible new toilets within the café building and a Changing Places toilet will help us achieve that.”
Sydney Gardens first opened in 1795 and were a favourite sport of Jane Austen. The project to restore the Gardens will involve extensive heritage and wildlife conservation work and areas of the park that are currently closed to the public will be reopened.
Historic features including the Loggia, Minerva’s Temple and the Edwardian toilets will be restored. Flower gardens will be replanted and wildlife habitats, viewpoints will be improved.
Existing buildings will be refurbished to create a community pavilion out of the toilet block which lies adjacent to the Gardeners Lodge and an artist/ craft workshop space within a former substation called the Bothy, at the top of the gardens. The project will also involve the refurbishment of four tennis courts together with the construction of a new exciting play and active zone for all ages and abilities.
The building and landscaping work will be enhanced with an inventive year-round programme of activities and events. There will also be the opportunity for a horticultural training programme for volunteers and work experience placements.
Sydney Gardens will also become Bath’s first dementia-friendly park.
The entire restoration project is expected to take 3 years.